I have been absent of late, this has been for the following 3 reasons:
1) Biggest one first: We have found a new apartment! Hoorah! This has therefore meant that I have been using up my leftovers which have been in the freezer for some time, as opposed to bringing in new stores. Do you remember the lentil and root vegetable soup? I had it last night for dinner and I think it’s got even better after being frozen! Happy surprise. I will be in England this weekend seeing two of my favourite girls for the first time since Christmas which I’m crazy excited about, but it does mean that it will be another weekend without cooking. Loums will be doing the moving without me because I booked the plane tickets to Birmingham back in January thinking ‘there is no way we will have found an apartment by that stage’, turns out this apartment was the second one we saw, and it’s great. I will make up for not being present for moving, in unpacking and sorting.
2) The weekend of the 17th April I went to Nice to visit a very good friend Rachel whom I met during my first year in France when we were both stationed in the same town working in Secondary and Primary schools as teaching assistants in 2011. After finishing her Masters in Paris, she went back to Alabama in January to begin her PhD, not intimidating in the slightest. She came with her family to Nice because her father and sister in-law had a conference there during the week. I went down to Nice, for the first time in my life, to join the family.
After talking until about 4am, we all woke up early to go and catch the train through to mountains to visit the towns of Annot, and Entrevaux. The train ride itself was incredible, the mountains were high, the river water was clear and blue, and despite the fact that I’ve never been to the US, the landscape made me think that that is what Colorado must be like, (Rachel’s mother told me I wasn’t far off). After stopping off at Annot for a coffee and to stretch our legs, we got back on the train to Entrevaux, a Medieval, walled town trickling down a mountain, and at the top of which is a citadel. We had lunch in the village square, we all took the ‘poitrine de pork’ which was absolutely delicious, and then the home-made (and I mean fresh out of the oven), tarte aux fraises which quickly became everyone’s ‘dessert of the week’.
Rachel and I climbed to the top of the citadel which was not easy but maaaan we did it and the views at the top; were what the word ‘awesome’ should be used for, I said ‘awesome’ when my food arrived, that was not correct, I then said ‘awesome’ upon reaching the top of the citadel; that was correct. We took it all in for a while before making our way down to join the others who had gone to visit the cathedral, before stopping to have a beverage and making out way back.
When we got back we freshened up and made our way to dinner at a family run, Italian restaurant. The son spoke English very well, knew every dish off by heart and went into great detail about the deliciousness of each one, and his mother cooked and worried about you if she though you hadn’t eaten enough. OH, the tiramisu, we all had it, perfectly soaked sponge, amazing strong and subtle flavours, Rach and I both agreed it was the best we ever had. For the main I had the tagliatelle fruit de mer. Needless to say gluten did come into play this weekend, my skin reacted of course but it was all very delicious and lovingly prepared.
We stayed up late again that evening and Rachel gave me the most amazing and polite t-shirt in the history of the world, did I mention she’s from Alabama? In the morning we got up early to walk along the promenade to the old town of Nice, to the port where we found a gorgeous, huge, navy blue, gold and white yacht from England called ‘Twizzle’. We carried on walking and talking in time to get back to the apartment they had rented for the week, gave our rooms one more check over, and headed to the airport. It was horrible saying goodbye to them but I have it in my diary to visit them next year in Alabama, where Rachel and I will be reunited, and we shall then sit on rocking chairs by a lake.
I went to bed at 9:30pm for the next 3 nights in a row and had eggs for dinner.
3) My friends from Reading, Tom and Hannah came to visit last weekend and they rented an apartment in Saint-Ouen with Air B&B for a very reasonable price. On Friday evening, Tom cooked us dinner which I didn’t take a picture of, but I will tell you this, it was delicious. He cooked rosemary and parcel-wrapped chicken, with asparagus wrapped in trimmed bacon with boiled new-potatoes. The spring flavours just keep coming!
On Saturday it was Tom’s birthday we met up with them in front of the Arc de Triomphe and from there we took them to Galleries Lafayette, and then Tom requested to have his first birthday pint in a café next to the Eiffel Tower, to which we willingly obliged and we had a spot of lunch in Le Suffren. We walked up the Champ de Mars so they could admire the Eiffel Tower from all angles, and then we crossed the bridge to Trocadero.
Loums had an idea of taking Tom to a Scottish bar in la Marais for his birthday dinner, so we slowly made our way in that direction, walked around for a while and had a light dinner in the well-known café ‘Les Philosophes’. The food was bloody excellent, the service was great and the loos had an optical illusion bookcase next to them. Afterwards we walked to Place de Vosges because it’s.so.nice. I drew Tom and Hannah a love-heart in the sandpits and then we made our way to the bar where we all played a couple of rounds of pool and dabbled in their whiskey and gin selections.
On Sunday Loums stayed home building his new gaming computer and I met up with them at Sévres Babylone to have brunch at Marcel (best brunch in Paree, but get there early) which when we arrived, had an hour waiting time. So we walked for a while, passing many closed cafés because ghaad dangit the French take their Sundays seriously, until we found, happily, a one-man-band Italian restaurant where I had the Calzone, and it made me very happy that if I do ever eat gluten, it’s to the quality of the tiramisu in Nice and this calzone, it was again, lovingly prepared and exactly what we needed. We then enjoyed the rest of our afternoon, dodging the rain before hugging each other goodbye before they went to catch their plane.
So my friends, in amongst packing, using up freezer stores, and catching up with those not-so nearest but definitely dearest, I’m sorry to have not done a lot of cooking, I miss it as I’m sure you can imagine as it gives me stability! But, I did cook one very yummy dish just a couple of nights ago which I am very much looking forward to sharing with you, and next week in amongst unpacking, I will be getting to know a brand new kitchen in Levallois-Perret (which is a happy 10 minutes to the centre of Paris as opposed to our current not 10 minutes and a great deal closer to our two jobs), and telling you all about it.
NB: The title of this post was a reference to the fantastic novel ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette?’, written by Maria Semple. Not that I’m stating I’m anywhere near as exciting as Bernadette, but if you’re in the mood to reach the last page of book and sigh before saying to no-one inparticular ‘that was a wonferfully written story’, this is the novel for you.